Feb 26

Icy Distance in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s GREENLAND

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Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Co.
By Nicholas Billon
Directed by Meg Taintor

Feb. 20 – March 15, 2015
189 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) One of the more terrifying aspects of climate change is its irreversibleness.  Once the environment has altered, it’s impossible to get the world back to where it was.  In Nicolas Billon’s 60-minute Greenland, we don’t only contemplate the fragility of the planet but the family unit.  The irreversible change that befalls Tanya (Charlotte Kinder), her uncle Jonathan (Dale J. Young), and her aunt Judith (Christine Power) is smaller than global warming but, in the show, just as brutal. Continue reading

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Feb 06

“The Second Girl” Keeps to Familiar Territory

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Photo credit: Hunting Theatre Co

Photo credit: Hunting Theatre Co

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co.
Written by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone
Directed by Campbell Scott

Jan. 16 – Feb. 21, 2015
South End / Calderwood
Pavilion at the BCA
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

The class war still rages on.  People from countries with fewer opportunities than ours wash up on the shores of America willing to work sixteen-hour days at thankless jobs.  In “The Second Girl,” the audience is transported to the influx of Irish immigration in the earlier twentieth century.  Specifically, we watch a full day in the life of Bridget O’Sullivan (Kathleen McElfresh) and aspiring actress Cathleen O’Leary (MacKenzie Meehan) in August 1912.  Both work as maids for the summer home of wealthy employers.  The carping and melodrama of our heroines’ everyday world is mined for a play that seems a little too grounded in the immigration stories that came before. Continue reading

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Dec 08

“Distant Neighbors” and Close Encounters

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Sheldon Brown (Adams) & Louise Hamill (Talia). Photo by E. Milanovich Photography

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
Written by Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Liz Fenstermaker

December 5 – 13, 2014
Boston Playwrights Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Fresh Ink Theatre’s Distant Neighbors hits at the heart of what the best science fiction is about: people reacting to technological advancement.  If you read (or watch the film adaption of) Jurassic Park, you’re not just consuming entertainment to see how people create dinosaurs, but how people react to creating dinosaurs.  Similarly, the characters of Distant Neighbors react to a change in an intimate environment.  Here, however, the source of upheaval is the wing of an apparent spacecraft that comes crashing down into the backyards of Adams (Sheldon Brown), Talia (Louise Hamill), and Griffin (Daniel Boudreau), three neighbors who know nothing about each other.  It’s a wonderful starting point for a story about intimacy and paranoia, but I’m not sure it pans out well.

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Nov 06

“Safekeeping” Reading and Safety in Numbers

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Photo by Nile Scott Shots

Photo by Nile Scott Shots.

Presented by The Accessible Theatre
by Rob Zellers
Directed by Adam Sanders

Nov. 3, 2014 at 7:30PM
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Accessible Theatre on Facebook

Disclaimer: This production included Queen Geek, Kitty Drexel in its cast. For this reason, this review is tempered to accommodate the NETG reviewing policy on Geek performance involvement.

Review by Gillian Daniels
(Cambridge, MA) Joe (Felix Teich) is an artist who creates complex dioramas and a loving and temperamental caretaker of his brother, sixteen-year old Robert (Elliott Purcell).  Due to his cerebral palsy, Robert spends his days bound to their run-down apartment, watching soap operas.  The Accessible Theatre brings us a reading of a play about brothers who have built their own world, insulated from the impoverished, drug-addled reality of their Ohio city.  As with many stories, the status quo is disrupted when a woman, social worker Marianne (Rachel Sacks), walks into their lives.  Her intrusion is a benevolent one, however, an attempt to confirm Robert is getting the help he needs.

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Oct 14

Theatre on Fire Ignites IT FELT EMPTY

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Presented by Theatre on Fire
By Lucy Kirkwood
Directed by Maureen Shea

October 10 – November 1, 2014
The Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA 02129
Theatre on Fire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

One of the most terrifying things about the circumstances of Dijana (Elizabeth Milanovich) is how convinced she is that she’s in control of them.  Theatre on Fire gives us a chilling story of a woman clinging to her mental well-being by playing a cheerful, even humorous Pollyanna in an unwilling career as a prostitute.  The American premiere of the show gets under one’s skin and stays there, emotionally and sometimes physically moving the audience further into Dijana’s claustrophobic, darkly comic misery. Continue reading

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Oct 01

imaginary beasts Will KNOCK! You Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Photo by Roger Metcalf

Photo by Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
By Daniil Kharms
Directed by Matthew Wood
Dramaturgy by Matthew McMahan

Sept. 26 – Oct. 18, 2014
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A joke in the absurdist, Stalin-era work of Daniil Kharms is the same as a violent pratfall: random, shocking in its flippancy, and somehow charming.  The punchlines in Knock! The Daniil Kharms Project involve a man forgetting his name due to a number of bricks dropped on his head or a romantic couple disappearing in the middle of the night by the secret police.  Utilizing a fun, avant-garde set design by Christopher Bocchiaro and Matthew Woods, imaginary creatures adapts Kharms’ experimental black humor with confidence. The theatre group doesn’t let anything like a sketchy plot or a lingering sense of doom from an oppressive government get in the way of a good time. Continue reading

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Sep 08

“Sweeney Todd” Delights in Dire Tragedy

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Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard. Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper.

Presented by the Lyric Stage of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed & Staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg

Sept. 5 – Oct. 11, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric on Facebook

Review Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In today’s entertainment landscape, probably the most surprising thing about The Lyric Stage’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is how un-sexy it makes murder. No, grisly death probably shouldn’t be attractive as a rule, but television shows like Hannibal and Dexter and even some thriller novels give serial killers a stylized warmth. Blood is splashed artfully over plastic tarps and cannibalized flesh is prepared with exquisite attention to detail for unsuspecting dinner guests. Stephen Sondheim’s infamous musical gives us only Sweeney Todd’s icy vengeance, spinning more out of control with every throat he slits in his barber’s chair, and Mrs. Lovett’s questionable baking skills. Continue reading

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Aug 12

Actresses Define an Era in “Playhouse Creatures”

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Andrew San Photography

Andrew San Photography

Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By April DeAngelis
Directed by Anna Trachtman

August 1 – 17, 2014
The Factory Theatre
Boston, MA
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company puts on the sort of historical play I love. Playhouse Creatures looks at the Restoration Era with new eyes, examining the lives of actors Mary Betteron (Christine Power), Ms. Marshall (Janelle Mills), Nell Gwyn (Emily White), and Ms. Farley (Emma Goodman) as they take to the English stage once women are lawfully allowed to act again. Their agendas diverge wildly: they do it for money, fame, or unbridled joy. Regardless, the show is a delicious exploration of what women looking to make art do when faced with a patriarchal society. Continue reading

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Aug 04

“Translations” and Tribulations

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Credit: Paul Cantillon, Lidecphoto.com

Presented by Bad Habit Productions
by Brian Friel
directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

August 2-17, 2014
Boston Center for the Arts
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston, MA
Bad Habit on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Cultural erasure and the silencing power of colonialism—Translations is not a play that minces words. It’s a tragedy of linguistics. During the 19th century, the English army seeks to map out the Irish countryside, specifically the town of Baile Beag. In order to have unified names for the maps they draw, the soldiers end up Anglicizing the Gaelic names of rivers, roads, and mountain ridges. Staged by Bad Habit Productions, this play rages at the disappearance of local tradition in the name of Imperialism. Continue reading

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Jul 23

Hub Theatre’s Shakespeare Crowd-Pleaser: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”

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Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Lauren Elias

July 18 – August 2, 2014
Club Café
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The working hypothesis for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) appears to be this: when at his most serious, the Bard is the most unintentionally hilarious. It’s darkly comic, in a way, that a pair of lovers would die passionately together despite knowing each other for a few days. And there’s something ridiculous about a prince putting off the assassination of the uncle who stole his crown because he doesn’t believe the ghost of his father. In Hub Theatre Company’s take on the parody, Patrick Curran, Adam Lauver (alternating with Will Moore), and Brooks Reeves seek to both compress and skewer Shakespeare’s body of work. Continue reading

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